Why did Naaman want some of Israel’s soil?


by Shawn Brasseaux

For those unfamiliar with him, Naaman appears in 2 Kings chapter 5. He was what we would call a proselyte—a Gentile convert to Judaism (Israel’s religion).

Captain of the Syrian army, Naaman (a Gentile, non-Jew), is “a mighty man in valour [courage, heroism]” and “a leper” (suffering from a skin disease) (verse 1). When Naaman hears of a prophet (Elisha) in Israel who can heal him of his disease, the king of Syria permits Naaman to visit the land of Israel (verses 2-9). Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home to hear some rather strange advice: he is to wash in the (filthy) Jordan River seven times and be healed of JEHOVAH (verses 10,11). Naaman questions, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (verse 12). Upset and disappointed, Naaman refuses to go to Jordan.

A servant of Naaman reasons with him, encouraging him to obey God’s Word through Elisha (verse 13). Naaman finally goes to the Jordan River, still thinking Israel’s God is quite bizarre. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).

Naaman, utterly shocked, returns to give Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses (verses 15,16). Representative of the few Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s God, Naaman confesses, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Earlier, recall that Naaman said Syria’s rivers were better than all of Israel’s bodies of waters (verse 12). After his healing, Naaman recognized JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was the one true God. He learned that the land of Israel was unique because the God of Israel was incomparable. In fact, he asked if he could take two loads of Israel’s holy soil back home to Syria!

We continue reading in the chapter: “[17] And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. [18] In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.”

Evidently, Naaman, having spent time with Jewish people (the little Jewess of verses 2-4; the prophet Elisha, and his servant; et cetera), learned a few things from the Mosaic Law (Israel’s Bible). Naaman understood that Israel’s God was the one true God, and came to see that the gods of his native Syria were worthless idols. Therefore, he promised to worship Israel’s God alone. Why did Naaman want some of the soil of Palestine though?

Evidently, Naaman requested some of Israel’s soil to follow verse 24 of the twentieth chapter of Exodus. Notice Exodus chapter 20: “[23] Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. [24] An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. [25] And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Although Naaman lived far away in Syria, he had converted to JEHOVAH God. Obeying Moses, he took some Palestinian soil back to Syria in order to build an altar of earth to Israel’s God. It would be on Israel’s soil—though in a foreign land—that Naaman would sacrifice to the LORD God.

NOTE: Dear friends, I recently re-taught and re-uploaded three videos from the 2017 Slidell Grace Bible Conference. Sessions 2, 3, and 8 are now on YouTube as they were originally meant to be all those months ago. The first two sessions are two hours total on Daniel’s 70th Week. The last session deals with The Millennium. I hope and pray that these studies will help you better understand Bible prophecy dispensationally delivered! You are welcome! Click here for the playlist. 🙂

Also see:
» What does “a land flowing with milk and honey” mean?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?